1 Aug 2015

Transfer Fail? Lawro claims 'outstanding' £26m Liverpool star 'needs to be more direct' and 'decisive'

Prior to his £26m move last summer, Liverpool legend Dietmar Hamann claimed that Adam Lallana is the 'most skilful English player' he'd seen in 'a long time', and insisted that the 27-year old midfielder is 'Beautiful to watch'. Well, it's fair to say that Lallana has (so far) failed to live up to that lofty billing, and LFC icon Mark Lawrenson claims that the midfielder needs to improve in one specific area over the course of the next season.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Lawro praised Lallana's 'encouraging' pre-season form, but admitted that there's 'one thing' that he's 'concerned about':

"He [Lallana] takes too many touches. He needs to be more direct and more decisive in possession.

"He has a lot of ability, but [he should] only have a maximum amount of touches in certain areas of the pitch".

Lawro is arguably right here. Lallana's dithering in possession was one of the frustrating features of Liverpool's attacking build-up play last season. Additionally, Lallana's constant (unnecessary) turns in possession quickly grew tiresome.

There's a time and a place for tricks, but quickly moving the ball into attacking areas is far more important than personal showboating. For me, though, Lallana's lack of body strength is a more problematic issue.

On many occasions last season, he got pushed off the ball far too easily, which is particularly frustrating when hold up play is one of his key tasks. It's all well and good scoring against part-times in pre-season, but Lallana has to consistently do the business where it matters: the Premier League.

Lallana is 27 now - he's in the prime of his career, and after a full pre-season, he can have no excuses for patchy performances this season. That said, if Firmino and Coutinho hit the ground running, Lallana may find it hard to nail down a regular place in the team, and that's fine with me.

Will Lallana come good this season? I can't see it. He (arguably) just doesn't have the mentality to make it at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and he proved that last season with a series of small-club mentality quotes. Examples:

* “Just being at Liverpool, the expectation is there at a bigger club, so you are expected to play better more consistently".

* "It is a big difference coming from Southampton. It is something I’m learning to deal with"

* "I always knew it was going to be difficult settling in, especially with the injury. Playing for a new club the size of Liverpool and having Champions League football - you need to be tough mentally".

* "I was so desperate to do well, maybe trying a bit too hard to impress, not doing things that I'd normally do, thinking about things maybe a bit too much".

* "You can't always expect to be at your best straight away".

These are worrying comments, and reveals a dreaded small-club mentality. The likes of Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, and Xabi Alonso never said things like this; they just went on the field and did the business, with 100% belief in their own ability.

Lallana's hand-wringing comments sound very similar to the kind of things Stewart Downing used to say, and it took him forever to start making a contribution.

It's possible that Lallana - hailed in March as 'outstanding' by Brendan Rodgers Jamie Carragher - is now confident enough in his own ability to take the bull by the horns, but if he struggled with the transition at the age of 26, it's doubtful that anything will have changed after another year.

If Lallana plays regularly, fans should (IMO) expect him to weigh-in with a bare minimum of 20 goals/assists in all competitions.

Given his age and experience, that is not an unreasonable expectation.

Author: Jaimie K


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